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Optimism growing in Scottish profession, Society survey finds

16 March 2015

Optimism for the future of the profession is growing among Scottish solicitors, according to a new survey for the Law Society of Scotland.

Carried out by Ipsos MORI towards the end of last year, the annual survey of Society members’ views found that 61% said they were optimistic about the future of the profession, compared with 53% in 2013.

A representative sample of 500 solicitors continued to place the setting of professional standards and regulation of law firms, including interventions to protect the public, as the highest priorities for their professional body. The results showed that:

  • 85% of solicitors believe that intervening where there has been a critical failure at a law firm should be a high priority for the Society;
  • 73% state that setting solicitors’ professional standards should be a high priority;
  • 67% of members agree that inspecting firms to ensure compliance with accounting rules should be a high priority;
  • the same percentage view investigating conduct complaints as a high priority for the Society.
  • In addition to its regulatory work, solicitors also believe that law reform work is important, with 65% of respondents saying that responding to proposed new legislation is a high priority for the Society. Over half agreed that providing practice advice for solicitors (57%) and protecting Scotland’s legal aid budget (51%) were also high priorities for their membership body.

The vast majority of respondents, at 82%, agree that the Society is an effective regulator, with 88% agreeing that it should continue to regulate and represent the legal profession in Scotland.

Just over half of solicitors use social media for professional purposes, but with the exception of Twitter at 20% (19% in 2013), usage of all social media channels scored lower than the previous year, with Facebook at 10% (15% in 2013) and Linkedin decreasing from 54% in 2013 to 48% in 2014.

Alistair Morris, President of the Society, said: “It’s reassuring to see that solicitors are more positive about their future as they look to build their businesses following the prolonged downturn. It’s important that we understand our members’ priorities to help us plan for the future as an organisation and to be able to provide the right kind of support and services they need throughout their careers, to ensure that they can meet the needs of their clients and employers.”

He added: “It’s clear that our members believe one of our most important roles is as a regulator who sets high professional standards and also to step in when things do go wrong at a firm, for whatever reason, in order to protect clients.

“Two thirds also agree that the Society has an important role in terms of working in the public interest in relation to the profession and the wider justice system. Our law reform team and volunteer committee members, including solicitors and experts from a range of different disciplines, scrutinise proposed new legislation and respond to consultations to help ensure that any new law which is passed is technically sound and workable in practice. In the past year we have responded to more than 80 consultations and commented on 24 Government bills, including the implementation of the Smith Agreement on further devolution for Scotland and the Assisted Suicide Bill, which we believe needs further clarity.”

 

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